Nikka Coffey Malt

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I wonder how often people have seen this bottle of whisky and thought that this was actually whisky infused with coffee. Or a special type of malt that has notes of coffee. Or anything to do with coffee. Well it doesn’t. This here is Coffey Malt Whisky! Coffey refering to the famous column stills that were patented by Aeneas Coffey in 1830.  Malt refering to just plain malt. So basically this here is whisky that was produced by using only malt in a Coffey/column still. If this were made in Scotland, it would have to be called grain whisky. But it ain’t. It’s made in good old Japan where the whisky runs free like buffalo wings on all-you-can-eat night at TGI Fridays!

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Akashi White Oak Blended Whisky

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With the recent rise in popularity of Japanese whisky, it seems like a lot of Japanese expressions are now flooding the market. To the uninitiated, it can be difficult to distinguish the multitudes of bottles with calligraphic Japanese characters in bold accompanied by sparse descriptions in English. I remember attending an “Evening with the Blenders” event at the Scotch Whisky Experience where an excited patron held up a bottle of Yoichi NAS to me and said they won it in the raffle. “It’s collectible!”, they decreed. Well unfortunately for them, or fortunately for me, not all Japanese whiskies are collectible. The Akashi blended whisky is very much an expression whose value will not likely rise in the near future. Tis a drinking whisky. Aren’t they all?

So what is this? Well Akashi is a brand which represents the Eigashima distillery in Japan (which is located in Akashi City). They started like many Japanese distilleries as a Sake and Shochu producer and have recently popped up on the European and American markets. However, this expression is a blend of whiskies from Japan and somewhere else. Sources suggest grain whisky from America. Apparently the Japanese version is quite different from the EU and American versions in that it contains molasses spirit. So that one is quite interesting but what we have here is basically an international blend. The marketing department probably thought making it look very Japanese would help boost sales in Europe and the States, and it probably has. Note that White Oak is another brand they use for their whiskies, so you might see people refering to this as Akashi or White Oak. They use these names on other expressions so it can get a bit confusing.

Another cool tidbit about Eigashima, it is “technically” the oldest whisky distillery in Japan because they got their whisky license in 1919 (Yamazaki started in 1923), but they really didn’t start making whisky until much later.

 

Distillery: Blend of whisky from Eigashima Distillery and American grain whisky.

Age: NAS

Cask: Unknown

ABV: 40%

Price: £29.95 from the Master of Malt

 

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News: Kilchoman Sauternes Cask Matured General Release Announcement

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Kilchoman have just sent out an email about their first general release Sauternes cask matured whisky. It was a bit confusing because they claimed it to be their first Sauternes cask whisky ever but in fact they released a club version in the winter of 2015.

I’m going to toot my own horn here; I totally called that they would release a general version of the Sauternes!

Anyway here are the details:

Aged for more than 5 years (fully matured) in a Sauternes cask from Bordeaux. Bottled at 50%. 6,000 bottles produced with a price tag of £73.50. This will be going on sale on their website tomorrow (Wednesday 7th September at 10am)! It will also be available in selected shops around the world.

The club release was bottled at 60% and was one of my favourite releases from Kilchoman. So really looking forward to this one! As I have said of the club release, I think this is the only heavily peated Scotch whisky fully matured in Sauternes casks. Well I guess now there are two. Will definitely try to get at least a sample of this for tasting notes. I’ll add a link on this page to the tasting notes once I get them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nikka Pure Malt Black

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The enigma that is the Pure Malt range from Nikka. What is in this whisky? It’s a secret and it epitomizes the Japanese philosophy on whisky production. There’s a bit more experimentation with blending, there’s a bit more hidden behind the label, there is a lack of sharing with others but a willingness to acquire Scottish gold. I’ll attempt to disperse a bit of the fog surrounding this particular expression as well as the line it comes from.

Nikka Pure Malt Black is probably the most widely available and commonly encountered expression from the Pure Malt range. The labeling of pure malt indicates that only malt whisky was used to produce these expressions. However, there may be a bit of a caveat to this since Nikka may have used their Coffey malt (using only malt but distilled in Coffey stills instead of pot stills). Under the Scotch Whisky Associations rules this would be called grain whisky. However, the use of the term Pure Malt is also forbidden for Scottish whiskies, which must use the term blended malt instead.

If you think that is confusing, get ready to fall deeper into this rabbit hole. While attending the Evening with the Blenders event at the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh, I spoke to the Master Blender for Nikka, Tadashi Sakuma. I asked him about the rumours that Scottish whisky was used in the Pure Malt series. He grinned slightly and nodded his head, then told me he could not say which ones. Seeing as how Nikka own Ben Nevis distillery, I think it is likely that they used whisky from Ben Nevis, however, by not telling me which distilleries were included he seemed to hint that there were more. Indeed the rumours suggest that the Pure Malt White expression contains a bit of Islay whiskies. How Nikka acquired these whiskies is truly perplexing and I can only assume they traded Ben Nevis spirit for it.

Anyway, enough of this whisky riddle, let’s talk about something more substantiated. There are three expressions in the Pure Malt series: Black, White, and Red. White is supposed to be the peaty one hence the rumours of Islay whiskies. Red is supposed to be the soft and easy drinking one. While Black lies somewhere in between perhaps representing the most balanced of the range. It’s hard not to see some like-ness in branding to the Johnnie Walker range but other than using colours and a sort of fuzzy matching of flavour profiles, these are a different type of whisky all together.

Type: Blend of malt whiskies but may not comply with Scottish standards for this category.

Distillery: Blend of whisky from Nikka owned malt distilleries. May contain whisky from Ben Nevis Distillery. Rumoured to also contain whisky from other Scottish distilleries. May also contain Coffey malt whisky from their Miyagikyo Coffey stills.

Age: NAS

Cask: Unknown but most likely a blend of ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry casks

ABV: 43%

Price: £39.29 from the Master of Malt

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Visit Scottish Distilleries

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Looking to visit your first Scottish distillery? Or looking to bag a few more? Well you’re in luck because we’ve compiled a list of Scottish distilleries with visitor centre information. Not all distilleries have visitor centres, and fewer of them have easily accesible online information about tours. So I have added links for distillery visitor centre websites or websites that contain information about visiting. I have also marked the ones we’ve been to with a “V” and those that we had tours at with a “T”. This is to indicate that we will write up post  about these in the future (if we haven’t done so already).  There will also be links to our distillery visit posts designated by “Post”.

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Port Ellen Maltings Tour

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Port Ellen is known for the closed distillery whose whisky now fetches insane prices at auctions, however the site of the distillery is now used as a maltings. The maltings is owned by Diageo and thus supplies Caol Ila and Lagavulin, however they also supply Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Kilchoman, Bunnahabhain, and Tobermory (for Ledaig) . While this site is usually closed to visitors, they open it up for tours once a year during the Islay Feis Ile (music and whisky festival) . We were lucky enough to go to Feis ile this year and obviously had to go on the maltings tour!  Here’s a brief summary of the tour for those who are interested.

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Nikka From The Barrel

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My favourite thing about Nikka is how adventurous they are with their releases. It really reflects the character of their founder Masataka Taketsuru who pioneered the art of whisky making in Japan. This expression exemplifies Nikka’s unique approach to whisky. It’s a blended whisky served up at cask strength (you don’t see that often!). Hence “From the barrel”, indicating that it is basically direct from the barrel. According to their website, they marry the blend in used casks for 3-6 months before bottling. While I could not find information about this anywhere, I am assuming that the whisky going into this blend is from Nikka’s Japanese distilleries: Yoichi and Miyagikyo. Although they could have also used whisky from their Scottish distillery, Ben Nevis distillery. Just for clarification, Miyagikyo distillery has both a malt distillery and a grain distillery. So whisky from Miyagikyo could be either. Some other adventurous expressions from Nikka include: Nikka Coffey Malt, Nikka Coffey Grain, and Nikka Pure Malt.  We were gifted a bottle of “From The Barrel” by our friends, Frank and Sabrina, in Munich, Germany!

 

Type: Blended Whisky

Distillery: Presumably a blend of Yoichi, Miyagikyo, and Miyagikyo grain

Age: No Age Statement

Cask: No statement, but married for 3-6 months in oak casks before bottling

ABV: 51.4%

Price: £33.88 from the Master of Malt

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